|Children's Video Game for
XBox 360 (with Kinect)
Our Recommended Age: Ages 8-up
Our Rating: A
|All reviews at Edutaining
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Finally, a dance game that actually requires dancing. This is
great news for players who'd like to gain a little swag…in the
privacy of their homes. This game isn't about waving a stick around
in vague correlation with an on-screen avatar. It isn't about
stepping on color-coded squares at the right time, and it isn't
about jazzercising onto a balance board. Dance Central,
released in October for the Xbox 360's Kinect, is about doing
legitimate dance moves using your full body, and doing them
correctly – right down to the angles of your elbows.
To help players learn the moves is a lineup of hot-shot trainers,
each with a unique style. In "Break It Down" mode, the trainer
performs dance steps, then challenges the player to imitate them.
Players receive feedback on success or failure, and red highlights
on the trainer’s body demonstrate problem areas. The Kinect sensor
watches it all -- three-dimensional movement, foot placement, and
body and arm angles. For intimidating dance patterns, a rookie
player can take comfort in the "Slow It Down" mode, which shows
maneuvers in slow-motion.
Once players have mastered the steps, "Perform It" mode connects it
all into one full, choreographed dance, for which players earn a
rating on performance accuracy.
A number of difficulty options exist, and even formerly clumsy
dancers may find themselves graduating from a simple stand-and-clap
movement in Lady Gaga’s "Pokerface" to an entire "Hardcore"
performance of "Just Dance."
Learning Lady Gaga's moves is exciting, but even beyond that, Dance
Central boasts a great soundtrack. Although it sticks to club hits,
there is something for everybody. Kylie Minogue's "Can't Get You Out
of My Head" is filled with sexy, feminine moves, while Audio Push's
"Teach Me How to Jerk" is a song best reserved for the fellas.
Players can dance to modern hits like Cascada's "Evacuate the Dance
Floor" or visit beloved past-era tracks like Lipps Inc.'s
"Funkytown" and Kool and the Gang's "Jungle Boogie."
Nearly as awesome as its music is Dance Central's visual appeal. The
graphics are colorful and stylized. Trainers resemble caricatures of
club stereotypes, and players can choose from a set of well-rendered
backgrounds, including one that eerily resembles the Jersey shore
Choices of both trainers and backgrounds are few, though, and may
leave players craving more variety. Also, where avatars of other
Kinect games mimic the movements of the player, Dance Central's
trainers do not respond to players at all. Alit with red, Latino
sensation Angel will keep on dancing even as you stop to grab a
phone call. Somewhat useful, however, is the small overlaid video of
the player's real-time silhouette.
Because trainers are non-interactive, all the fun is had by the
player, while spectators are left with a lackluster experience. For
this reason, despite ads touting this a "social" game, Dance Central
is better played solitary. Adding to its poor value as a social game
is the ill-conceived two-player mode, the "Dance Battle," which
basically consists of one player stringing through half a song's
dance steps while the other player watches idly, and then does the
exact same moves. Sure, friends can be altruistic and form a
just-for-fun back-up crew behind the main dancer, like in the
commercials. But once you factor in the Kinect's distance
requirement of eight feet, whose living room has space left for an
As a one-player game, though, Dance Central shines, and the learning
process is so immersive, you won't want to share anyway. Many of the
dance moves are demanding, and the Kinect sensor is unforgiving
about errors. With this kind of precision, players will find
themselves whittling away the time trying to perfect moves like the
Jazz Square. The feedback is so specific, it feels like actual
one-on-one dance training, and the reward is a sense of true
achievement. When performing the songs, you may feel so ramped-up by
the cheering that you forget you're not actually a blinged-out
performer in a club. Don't worry. The "Freestyle" camera playback
will remind you that you just got up, you haven't brushed your hair
yet, and you're still in your pajamas.
By the way, while you're busy with your new obsession, you might not
notice that you're also getting a great cardio workout. And if you
want an even greater reward, check the "Workout Mode" box before
each performance to find out how many calories you've burned while
having all of that fun.
Xbox 360's Dance Central is exhilarating, and its accuracy using the Kinect sensor is unprecedented in dance games. Its soundtrack is
compelling and varied, and its graphics, though limited, are
attractive and well-rendered. While not recommended in a
multi-player setting, this game is great for a beginning dancer who
wants to be enormously entertained, learn a few moves, and get into
shape doing so. The first step is, as promised by Kinect developers,
getting off the couch. The second is running to the store to pick up
this game. The third is the Merengue.
Overall Rating : 8.5/10
By Meg Ivy
- Good training; provides a good workout as well.
- Accurate and far less cumbersome than other dance games.
- Not as multi-player/social as it's touted to be.
- Some lack of variety.
For more information, user reviews, or to buy:
Dance Central with 240 Microsoft Points
for the XBox 360